By Rachael Jordan
Center Valley United Methodist Church/ Pastor
First, read Philippians 4:4-6
Can you remember a time when you were so excited for some special day or event that you were practically busting out of your skin before the time came?
Maybe it was the new Star Wars movie or an upcoming much needed vacation or your wedding to the love of your life. Or maybe even it was that day you were finally going to go pick up that beautiful child your family was adopting or that day you’d finally walk across the stage to get your diploma or the day you’d at last tell your loved ones you’re cancer free!
It could be anything, but without a shadow of a doubt, it was beyond exciting! Can you think of it?
As that special, exciting day or event got closer and closer, what happened? Your excitement grew, but I’d bet your anxiety matched it.
You’d begin to worry: Do I have enough money? Do I have the right tickets? Honey, I need you to pick up the little travel shampoo at CVS! Where are the passports? The caterer just cancelled so I have to find another! Did someone pick up my dress from the dry cleaner? Did I get someone to watch the kids? How about the pets? Is the house ready? School’s over or retirement’s here or cancer is gone … now what?
Advent is a season of preparation and anticipation. As Christmas nears, both our excitement and our anxiety rise, and Paul’s letter to the Philippians points us to a perfect reminder.
With ten days to go till Christmas, as the shopping malls become overcrowded, and cookies are being burned, and parties turn into obligations rather than blessings, we must remember to not become bogged down with all of the anxiety and to-do’s of the Christmas season.
Rather, we are called to sit and revel in the excitement of the nearing Christmas and REJOICE in the Lord always! I say REJOICE! For the Lord is NEAR! The coming of the Lord is near! Christmas is near! REJOICE!
1. What does it mean to “REJOICE in the Lord always” and “let your gentleness be known to everyone” (NRSV)? How are those two statements connected?
2. What is creating anxiety within you as you approach Christmas this year? How can you release that anxiety and REJOICE in God and the coming of the Lord?
4. As Philippians points out, what role does prayer and thanksgiving play in releasing anxiety?
5. What can you do to help others in your church and/or in your community to turn their focus more toward the excitement of the season rather than the busyness it creates?